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At Home with the Marquis de Sade: A Life

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  243 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
A remarkable and unparalleled portrait of the Marquis de Sade and the two women who endured his peculiar genius

Much has been written about the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), the flamboyant aristocrat whose years indulging in sexual aberrations inspired his celebrated works 120 Days of Sodom and Justine--and landed him in the Bastille. However, scant attention has been paid t
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Paperback, 496 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Erik Graff
Jan 03, 2016 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having just read Geoffrey Gorer's The Life and Times of the Marquis de Sade, I picked up this alternative, more recent biography. While Gorer's approach is primarily intellectual, Gray's is more a traditional biography. It is also better written and pays far more attention to the primary women in Sade's life. Both Gorer and Gray share the opinion, however, that Sade was much less extreme in his personal life than one might infer from his pornographic novels. Gorer's angle is to point out how lit ...more
Nicholas Karpuk
Mar 11, 2009 Nicholas Karpuk rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sadists (duh), History Fans, Libertines
The first thing I thought when I finished reading about the Marquis De Sade was, "He kinda reminds me of my father." That can't be a healthy response, can it?

It's mostly because Sade came from a background of wealth and privilege and spent his life wasting all his good connections, burning up his money on indulgences, and generally being a caustic difficulty to everyone around him. The main reason this worked was his charm. The man could apparently talk his way in and out of many things.

Except f
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Jimmy
Feb 06, 2014 Jimmy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Sinners could pay for absolution in the Catholic church. The money made by this practice was enormous. The question becomes: Who was the real sinner, the Church or the adulterer?

As de Sade said in Justine: "Is there one religion not marked by imposture and stupidity? What do I see in all of them? Mysteries that insult reason, dogmas that go against the laws of nature, grotesque ceremonies that only inspire derision and disgust. But if one of them particularly merits our scorn and our hatred . .
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Alexander Santiago
Nov 15, 2011 Alexander Santiago rated it it was amazing
I've always held something of an eye-brow raising fascination of the entity that is the Marquise de Sade (for whom the term "sadism" is said to be derived), the original bad boy of the literary world: a spoiled, entitled, debauched aristocrat, an over the top epitome of 18th century France, whose writings, predilections and peccadilloes (which ran to the extreme spectrum of sexuality) landed him in prison on a number of occasions. This historical book focuses on the women in de Sade's - his moth ...more
MAP
This book did a very good job of turning someone whose name has become more symbolic than anything back into a human being. Gray does a good job of separating de Sade's actual behaviors from his writings -- his sexual encounters were in fact not terribly different from many other aristocrats of the day (for the most part, and that's not to say that most aristocrats' behavior wasn't reprehensible or kinky); he left his kinkiest ideas to his fiction. She also separated his philosophical and politi ...more
Julie Barrett
Jan 12, 2013 Julie Barrett rated it really liked it
I bought this book from the dollar shelf at the used bookstore as a way to cleanse my palate after reading about a dozen rock memoirs. Rock memoirs are fun to read but are not particularly well written and not very academic or scholarly. Also I'm a sucker for any book that has the blurb " A Pulitzer Prize Finalist". I didn't see that on the cover of David Lee Roth's memoir.

Before this book I knew very little about Sade. Obviously that the word sadism comes from his name. I attempted to read his
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Sommer
May 09, 2008 Sommer rated it really liked it
After reading the Marquis de Sade and seeing Quills, I had to learn more about the Marquis himself. This is where this book comes in. It is an interesting look at the dysfunctional triad of mother, daughter and son in law. Interlaced within the history of the Marquis's life is a look into many of the scandals that created the essence of who we all love and hate. Never dull and full of liberties on the part of the author to piece together the life of the Marquis, a must read for those needing a l ...more
Jerrod
Aug 22, 2008 Jerrod rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This biography is wonderfully written. The author tells De Sade's story without bias, keeping it lively and interesting (not a difficult task given the subject). It seems very thorough. The reader can leave this book feeling as though they've lived his life, as opposed to many other biographies that read like textbooks. Whether or not the readers would want that is up to them. As to be expected, it gets explicit in parts, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that offends easily.

Philippa
A good read - well written and engaging - but not for the weak of stomach. I agree with an earlier reviewer who pointed out that this is no glamorous or trendy view of sadism; our modern definition of the idea is pretty cuddly and fuzzy compared to Sade's actual psyche and life.
Evan
Jul 01, 2012 Evan rated it liked it
3-4 stars. Expertly written but only intermittently interesting. It's greatest fault is that it's too extensive. Should have been half as long. How much is there really to say about Sade? The whole book can be summed up in a thought: he was unstable.
Bethnyc1
Oct 16, 2013 Bethnyc1 rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago but recommend it. I didn't know too much about the Marquis de Sade before reading the book but have a better understanding of him now. What a pervert!
Kristen Frankie
This was a very interesting book. The man was horrible, but so was most of his life. I'm not sure I have any friends who could stomach reading this book, so I'm not going to recommend it.
Carla
Nov 15, 2007 Carla rated it it was amazing
Almost Finished! Not a particularly biased view of De Sade. Well written and supported. The excerpts of his own letters are worth it, alone.
Dylan
Jun 24, 2009 Dylan rated it liked it
I'm getting closer to having all the published works by people with whom I share a birthday. I'm looking in your direction, B. Real.
Jessica T.
Jul 21, 2014 Jessica T. rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
holy crow!!! this biography is great.. sometimes a bit dry but Sade's story (and the women in his life) is fascinating.
Paddy O'callaghan
Sep 26, 2012 Paddy O'callaghan rated it liked it


Reasonable but can't hold a candle to Schaefer's investigation of the man who was not as exclusively sadistic as many believe.
Wesley
Sep 29, 2009 Wesley rated it really liked it
very enjoyable. interesting person. interesting relationships. interesting time in history
Sarah Lang
Apr 26, 2010 Sarah Lang rated it really liked it
She is an outstanding writer. Erudite, amusing, entertaining and highly educational, all at once!!
Damselindistress
My dear, I am well and truly whacked, and I HATE SUNDAYS. I hate everything.
Lisa Kren
Mar 10, 2009 Lisa Kren is currently reading it
Shelves: classics
I've been reading this book sloooooooooowly. Pretty heavy reading.
Kathleen
To be read in small doses.
Kristi
Jun 27, 2007 Kristi rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
C+
Lynn Neild
Lynn Neild marked it as to-read
Feb 04, 2016
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Sean Coleman marked it as to-read
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Michele marked it as to-read
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Rachel Summers
Rachel Summers rated it it was amazing
Jan 24, 2016
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Francine du Plessix Gray, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and literary critic, was born in Warsaw, Poland, where her father, Vicomte Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix, was a French diplomat - the commercial attaché. She spent her early years in Paris, where a milieu of mixed cultures and a multilingual family (French father and Russian émigré mother) influenced her.

Widowed when her father died in bat
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More about Francine du Plessix Gray...

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